Affiliate Spotlight: Ryan Henyard
Ryan Henyard believes that a better world is possible, and he’s doing his best to make that belief a reality.
Story by Malin Andersson
He is a self-described “do-gooder” who focuses specifically on the intersections of social justice, equity, and community. As a Faculty Experience Designer at the University of Michigan’s Center for Academic Innovation, Ryan has expanded upon his identity as an educator and a technologist. He is a valued collaborator with the Center for Socially Engaged Design where his knowledge in design and his passion for addressing social issues intersect effectively. In all of his work, Ryan is dedicated to supporting anyone who comes into contact with him.
Ryan co-designed the “Envisioning an Anti-Racist World” Challenge for Innovation in Action, encouraging participating teams to consider diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in their projects. He also develops curricula with C-SED to integrate design thinking with social justice.
As a mentor, Ryan helps teams see how social justice and equity fits in with their ideas. More than anything, Ryan coaches students to be bold. He is passionate about connecting students to opportunities beyond the classroom, both in his work at the Center for Academic Innovation and C-SED. He believes that students can make a difference in the world now – they don’t have to wait until they metaphorically grow up.
At Academic Innovation, Ryan is constantly developing new programs and events. In 2020, Ryan created a teach-out centered around police brutality. The online course prioritized community action in response to racial injustice. In all of his work, he focuses on problem solving and long term growth.
Ryan is no stranger to the University of Michigan having received both his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts in Ann Arbor. After graduating with a BA in Asian Languages & Cultures (Japanese) through the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Ryan established himself as a technologist – who was interested in education. Then, Ryan’s identity shifted into an “educator who used technology” and he went back to school to receive his MA in Higher Education through the Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education at U-M. Before his current role in Academic Innovation, Ryan worked in medical education and then as a system administrator designed to help students who are challenged with technology access.
Outside of his work with U-M, Ryan is what his friend termed “a hummingbird hobbyist.” He is constantly flying around and trying new things. Currently, Ryan is a Photo Ambassador for the Washtenaw County Parks Systems. As a disabled person of color, Ryan is interested in showing ways that disabled folks and people of color can enjoy natural spaces. He enjoys video games and music – Japanese music, Korean music, 70s funk, choral music, and just about everything else.
Ryan is also working to expand projects concerning non-police-based emergency responses as well as housing justice. He is on the board for Avalon Housing, a nonprofit focused on providing permanent, supportive housing that meets residents where they are.
Check out Ryan’s podcast celebrating Black-led films, The Black Movie Podcast!